The Diary

Privy to US secrets

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2010

What do the great men of the United Synagogue turn to for inspiration?

Spotted in the gents at the organisation's headquarters last week was a copy of Pulled Off At Half-Time, a collection of "football's finest quotes and funniest quips" with a foreword from former England international, Rabbi Rodney Marsh.

Next week: inside the loos at the London Beth Din.

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My yiddishe Mozart

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2010

Music-lovers will be thrilled to hear that Sadler's Wells is to stage its newly completed version of an unfinished Mozart opera in the summer.

The genius composer wrote two acts of the work which is called Zaide before he put it to one side. He must have been waiting for Booba.

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Bedding down for Israel

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2010

Much eye-popping online at the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students' new campaign to promote Israel to their fellow campusites.

Called "Size Doesn't Matter", it was launched with a video featuring a man in bed naked but for a strategically placed brochure of Israel, along with a woman making cheesy puns about oral sex.

It is "pretty provocative", agreed the federation's Rebecca Cherniak. But it is "a quick and witty way to grab the attention" of students many of whom "can't even pinpoint where Israel is on the map".

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Our friend, Chairman Ken

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2010

It is reassuring to see that some in football's high places are acting to stamp out antisemitism on the terraces.

I bring you Leeds United chairman Ken Bates, fresh from Tuesday's game v Walsall, where he referred in the programme to a complaint from a fan about the chanting at the recent cup tie against Spurs.

"The substituting of 'Auschwitz' and 'Belsen' when the Spurs fans were singing that they were 'on the road to Wembley' is so old hat," he wrote.

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Driving rabbis quackers

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2010

If you can't tell the difference between a mallard and a muscovy, you could be in trouble.

A poultry abattoir in New York's strictly Orthodox enclave of Kiryas Joel was recently ordered by rabbis to recall a consignment of doubtful ducks.

Now, the Torah specifies only what birds you cannot eat and duck is not among them. Later rabbis, however, instituted a rule permitting only birds where there existed an established local tradition of consumption.

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Lube milk for China

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2010

A first for China- no longer will strictly kosher residents have to make do with powdered milk to dispense on their cornflakes.

A group of Beijing cows have been persuaded to lend their udders for the production of chalav Yisrael, fresh supervised milk. The dairy impresario is British-born Rabbi Shimon Freundlich, head of Lubavitch in the Chinese capital.

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Going for Goldie

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2010

Goldie Hawn has apparently charmed the Tories with the idea of importing some of her education methods into UK schools.

Her charitable foundation promotes "deep belly breathing" and other exercises designed to help children focus better.

The goldilocked actress has a longstanding interest in Eastern spirituality as a Jewish Buddhist, or Buju - or should that be Jubu?

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Fry: My gripe with Moses

By Simon Rocker, February 11, 2010

Will Stephen Fry get an invitation to the Chief Rabbi’s next Chanucah bash — “Latkes and lox and bagels and blintzes. Hurrah,” he twittered after last year’s do?

Possibly not, I think, after his contribution to Channel 4’s programme on the Ten Commandments on Sunday. They were “the hysterical believings of a group of desert tribes,” he said. “Those desert tribes have stirred up more misery for mankind than any other group of people in the history of the planet and they are doing it to this day.”

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TV's battle of the brains

By Simon Rocker, February 11, 2010

Fingers on the remote for BBC2 next Monday evening for the quarter-final of University Challenge, which features the long-awaited clash between two of the brainiest Jewish boys in Britain.

Natural scientist Alex Guttenplan will be battling for bonus points against physics undergraduate Gilead Amit, the respective captains of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and Imperial College London.

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Bernard hits the botul

By Simon Rocker, February 11, 2010

Much snickering in Paris at the expense of Bernard-Henri Lévy. Taking a potshot at an Immanuel Kant in his latest book, the pin-up philosopher quoted from a book called The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant by one Jean-Baptiste Botul.

The only trouble is Botul doesn’t exist: he was a spoof figure invented by a journalist, Frédéric Pages.

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